Environmental groups pushes producers to recycle bottles

The rise of the consumer culture here in the Czech Republic since 1989 may have led to greater variety and increased quality of produce in the shops and stores. However - according to the environmental group Friends of the Earth - this also has negative effects. Hnuti Duha, as the organisation is called in the Czech Republic, believe that the traditional bottle-recycling system has been undermined by a shift towards more economically viable packaging. Nicole Negowetti reports on the environmental pressure to find the perfect balance between the old and the new.

Whenever you buy a bottled drink in the Czech Republic, you have to pay a small deposit, which is refunded when you bring back the bottle for recycling. But this returnable bottle system is currently under threat. Drink manufacturers are now turning to cheaper, non-returnable containers in order to increase their profit margin. The environmental group Hnuti Duha hosted a seminar in Prague on Wednesday to discuss their campaign to preserve the recycling system by tightening current legislation. I spoke to Daniel Vondrous from Hnuti Duha who explained how the increasing production of non-returnable bottles is creating an ecological problem: "We are trying to create a balance between returnable bottles and non-returnable packages. We think that this balance has been destroyed in recent years. Returnable bottles are at a disadvantage, especially from the economic point of view and the main reason for this is that producers take very little responsibility for non-returnable bottles. At this point, producers have to take back just a very small fraction of the returnable bottles they produce." How can this ecological balance be achieved? Mr Vondrous suggests a shift in responsibility for bottle recycling from consumers to the producer. "We think that a balance will be created by pushing producers to recycle more non-returnable bottles, especially plastic bottles. We propose that they will have to recycle 50 percent of them over the next 2 years, and 80 percent over the next seven years. This means producers will have to recycle 80 percent of the bottles they produce." The main objective of the Hnuti Duha campaign is to make manufacturers more accountable for the waste they create, by either taking full responsibility for recycling non-returnable bottles or supplying more returnable containers: "Producers can decide that they will just produce non-returnable bottles and that they will recycle them all. If they will decide that they will have more returnable bottles and just a very small amount of non-returnable bottles, it will be better for the environment. Producers can decide if they will make more non-returnable bottles and recycle them, or they can produce more returnable bottles and just recycle a small amount of the rest. This second solution is cheaper for them, and better for the environment."

Author: Nicole Negowetti
run audio